The Boy and the Heron is the latest animated film from the legendary Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Here’s what you need to know:

Unraveling the Mystery of Miyazaki’s Latest Masterpiece: “The Boy and the Heron”


“The Boy and the Heron” (Japanese title: “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka”) is a 2023 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed filmmaker behind Studio Ghibli classics like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” This marks Miyazaki’s first feature film in ten years and is touted as his final project. The film follows a young boy named Mahito who, after losing his mother, moves to the countryside with his father and new stepmother. There, he encounters a mysterious gray heron that leads him into a fantastical world.

Release Date

The film was released in Japan on July 14, 2023, by Toho. It premiered in North America on November 8, 2023, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was released in the United States on December 8, 2023, by GKIDS.

Streaming Info

As of June 2nd, 2024, “The Boy and the Heron” is not available on any streaming platforms. It is currently only available in theaters. There is no official announcement regarding when the film will be available for streaming. However, it is expected to eventually land on a streaming service, likely after its theatrical run.

International Release Dates

RegionRelease DateDistributor
JapanJuly 14, 2023Toho
United StatesDecember 8, 2023GKIDS
CanadaDecember 8, 2023GKIDS
United KingdomTBATBA
Other RegionsTBATBA

Critical Reception

“The Boy and the Heron” has received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its animation, music, and emotional depth. It has been described as a “big, fantastical film” and a fitting farewell from Miyazaki. However, some viewers found the film’s narrative to be somewhat confusing and open-ended.

Box Office Performance

The film has been a box office success in Japan, becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film of 2023 and the second-highest-grossing anime film of all time in Japan. It also performed well in North America, grossing over $15 million in its opening weekend.

The Boy and the Heron Overview

“The Boy and the Heron” emerged as a celebrated addition to Studio Ghibli’s renowned film repertoire. Crafted by esteemed director Hayao Miyazaki, this animated feature marks his return after a decade since his previous work. The film, with its release on December 8, 2023, coincides with a significant comeback timed around the year’s end festivities and awards season — a period well-known for attracting widespread cinema attention.

As Miyazaki’s latest creation, the film intertwines elements of life and death in a rich narrative described as semi-autobiographical. It bravely explores the profound connections between these universal experiences through the eyes of its young protagonist, Mahito. The Japanese anime film reflects upon art and creation, resonating with themes that mirror both the personal and professional journey of Miyazaki himself.

The adventure follows young Mahito as he navigates a world where the boundaries between the living and the dead merge. The story unfolds in Japan, offering both a cultural and fantastical experience. It’s an artistic expression that continues to fortify Miyazaki’s legacy as an Academy Award-winning filmmaker.

The anticipation of “The Boy and the Heron” has captivated the anime community, much owed to Studio Ghibli’s reputation for narrative depth and visual beauty. The film has been meticulously hand-drawn, a testament to the studio’s commitment to traditional animation techniques.

Audiences young and old are invited to immerse themselves in this latest escapade, where they’ll witness a familiar blend of Ghibli wonder and Miyazaki magic, a canvas where each stroke colors a story of life’s intricate dance with the ephemeral.

The Boy and the Heron Release Details

The animated adventure “The Boy and the Heron” has set its sights on a global release, with special attention to North American audiences. The PG-13-rated film offers a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes of captivating storytelling.

Global Box Office Launch

“The Boy and the Heron” embarked on its worldwide cinematic journey starting with an esteemed unveiling at the Toronto International Film Festival. Following its festival presence and building momentum without extensive promotion, the film opened in Japanese theaters on July 14, 2023. This allowed it to gain traction through festival buzz rather than traditional marketing strategies.

North America Distribution

For North American fans eager to catch the film on the big screen, “The Boy and the Heron” began showing in select theaters on December 6, followed by a broader release on December 8. To check for showtimes, moviegoers can use platforms like Fandango. While details on a streaming release date remain undisclosed, theatrical experience is currently at the forefront for the North American audience. The film is distributed by GKIDS, known for bringing sophisticated animated features to a wider audience.

The Boy and the Heron Cast & Characters

The animated film “The Boy and the Heron” brings together a compelling mix of characters, voiced by a talented cast. Directed by the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, the story unravels through the experiences of young Mahito Maki, brought to life by the voice of Soma Santoki. Mahito’s journey intertwines with a host of other characters, each unique and vital to the storyline.

Japanese Cast Highlights:

  • Masaki Suda voices the lead character, Mahito.
  • Kô Shibasaki and Aimyon lend their voices to other pivotal roles.
  • Notably, Takuya Kimura plays a significant character.

For the English dub, the film features:

  • Christian Bale
  • Dave Bautista
  • Gemma Chan
  • Willem Dafoe
  • Karen Fukuhara
  • Mark Hamill
  • Robert Pattinson
  • Florence Pugh

These actors give voice to the characters, adding depth and emotion to the animation. It’s worth noting that some names like Yoshino Kimura and Kaoru Kobayashi are also part of the project, each contributing to the vibrancy of the film. Other noteworthy characters in the film include Shoichi, Natsuko, Kiriko, and Lady Himi, each with their own backstory and significance.

The English voice cast also features up-and-coming talent with the likes of Mamoudou Athie and Dan Stevens, alongside young Luca Padovan, who voices Max. The ensemble cast of “The Boy and the Heron,” whether in the original Japanese release or the English dub, collectively brings the story to an international audience. With Miyazaki at the helm, it’s no surprise that each character is meticulously crafted, with performances that aim to resonate with viewers around the globe.

Frequently Asked Questions

With “The Boy and The Heron” stirring excitement among animation enthusiasts, several questions have arisen about its availability. Addressing these inquiries can help fans know where and when they can catch this anticipated film.

When is The Boy and The Heron expected to be available for streaming?

The exact streaming release date for “The Boy and The Heron” has yet to be announced. However, it typically follows a few months after the theatrical release.

Is there a release date for The Boy and The Heron on DVD?

There has not been an official announcement regarding the DVD release of “The Boy and The Heron.” Usually, DVDs are released a few months after the movie’s initial theatrical run.

What platforms will The Boy and The Heron be released on?

Details about specific streaming platforms for “The Boy and The Heron” have not been disclosed. But it’s common for major films to appear on multiple mainstream streaming services after their theatrical tenure.

Will The Boy and The Heron be available to watch on HBO Max?

There is currently no confirmation about “The Boy and The Heron” coming to HBO Max. Fans will need to stay tuned for updates from the service providers.

When will The Boy and The Heron be released in European countries?

The European release date for “The Boy and The Heron” hasn’t been specified. Release dates often vary by country, dependent on distribution agreements.

Can I watch The Boy and The Heron in English upon release?

“The Boy and The Heron” is likely to be available in English, along with other languages, as it’s common practice to include various language options for global releases.

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